Category: Cravat

Turning and Finishing

Here’s where we left off with the cravat. It’s now time to begin the process of turning and pressing them.

Begin by carefully trimming the seam allowance to just over 1/8″ at both ends. I like to taper the cut to avoid any hard transitions.

Here’s the completed end after trimming. Repeat for the other end. Be sure not to trim any closer than 1/8″, or you risk the seam coming undone and it fraying.


Turning the cravat is pretty straightforward, but I’ll try to give you a few tips I’ve picked up. First, separate the two layers of fabric near the tip, sort of opening it up.

Then push it into itself, and use the eraser end of an unsharpened pencil to gradually and carefully push the end through towards the opening in the middle. Try not to put too much pressure on the very tip – keep the pencil off to one side or the other.

Continue pushing the pencil and cravat gently through, collecting the gathers of fabric as far down the pencil as you can.

There’s a lot of fabric that gets gathered up on the pencil, and it’s easy to get the pencil lost in the gathers if you don’t push them down far enough.

Finally, the right side of the cravat tip should emerge from the opening. Once you have a firm grasp of it, you can pull the pencil out, and pull the rest of this side of the cravat right side out.

Here’s the first half of the cravat turned right side out. Repeat the same process for the remaining half.


Pressing is one of the most important aspects of good tailoring, and I spend almost as much time pressing here in this simple project as I do sewing. Looking at the cravat so far, you’ll notice that a lot of the seams tend to be ‘inside’ the cravat still. I like to insert a seam turning tool into the opening at this point to crease each of the seams from the inside, and in particular straighten out the points at each end. You could also use a pencil for this process with pretty much the same results.

It’s hard to see, but I’m holding the point pressing tool against the seam and pulling both edges firmly, giving a nice crisp edge to the seam.

Continue the process towards the point.

At the point carefully and gently push the point fully open from the inside. Be careful not to use too much pressure as this is the weak point and can very easily burst open. Get the point looking exactly how you want it to, as pressing will not do much if the point is not sharp now.

Continue around the other seam, and the other half of the cravat in the same manner.

Without using steam at this point, I like to give the cravat a light pressing just to keep everything in its position. You don’t really want to crease the edges yet, as that makes finishing the opening a little more difficult. Since we’re pressing the outside of the cravat, I like to use a press cloth, in this case a scrap of linen, between the iron and the cravat to prevent any scorch or dirt marks from appearing.

Here’s what you should have so far.

Ladder Stitching the Opening

It’s time to close up the opening now with what’s sometimes known as a ladder stitch. This is an almost invisible stitch from the outside which gives a nice clean finish to your cravat.

You’ll notice that the seam allowance at the opening is creased under from the pressing, but still not completely flat at this point.

With your needle and some fine finishing thread, make two or three stitches in place near one end of the opening on one seam allowance, being sure not to let the stitch show through on the outside. The stitches should be about 1/8″ below the crease and parallel to the fold.

Make your next stitch beginning directly across from the end of the previous stitch in the other seam allowance.

Continue making about four or five stitches, not pulling them tight at this point. You’ll notice how they form somewhat of a ‘ladder’, hence the name.

Now carefully pull the thread, pulling the stitches firmly closed. Don’t pull too tightly though, as you’ll end up with unsightly gathers.

Continue with the same process across the width of the opening, closing it up nicely. At the other end, make another three or so stitches in place, hiding them as best you can in the folds of the seam.

Final Pressing

We’ll finish up the cravat with one last pressing. I’m again using the press cloth. Lightly dampen the press cloth with a spray bottle, use high heat on your iron, and you’ll end up with a very nicely pressed and crisp cravat, ready to wear.

Cravat Construction

With the pattern drafted, it’s time to cut it out the fabric and start on the construction. Begin by laying your pattern on the doubled fabric with the baseline parallel to the grain in either direction. It’s probable that you’re using scraps to make your cravat so just place the pieces where they’ll best fit.

Using a quilting ruler helps with the alignment of the pattern piece.

When laying out the second piece, I like to align the long edge with the previous piece, as well as reverse the pattern, to save cutting and fabric.

Cut out the two pieces, keeping the cut to the inside of the chalk line, as the chalk line takes up some width and would throw off your pattern otherwise. On the shared long edge, cut directly in the middle of the line.

When cutting silk be sure your scissors are very sharp!

Here are all of the pieces cut out, for a total of four, two for each side.

Align two of the pieces together as closely as you can, right sides together. Then along the short edge at the center, sew a seam either by machine or with a back stitch using a 3/8″ seam allowance. Repeat for the other two pieces. It’s important that the pieces be properly aligned and the seam accurately sewn, or else the cravat will skew off at odd angles rather than remain straight.

Press the seam open with your fingers just to make getting in there easier with the iron.

Press the seam firmly open from both sides using high heat and no steam unless necessary.

Now carefully align both sewn pieces right sides together, ensuring that the center seams are perfectly aligned. You can pin them together if you want using very small pins if you must, but I find they damage the silk and prefer to just align things as I sew.

Start just on the far side of the center seam and begin sewing towards one end, using a 3/8″ seam allowance. You can use a back stitch if you want, I simply don’t have the patience for that anymore.

When you get to the tip of the cravat, rather than making a sharp angle with your stitching, stitch across the point with a single stitch, sort of blunting the angle. This gives more room for the fabric when you turn it right side out later on.

Continue sewing the other side down towards the opposite point and back towards the beginning.

Stop your stitching 2″ to 4″ away from where you started, giving yourself room to turn the cravat right side out. The smaller the opening, the more difficult it is to turn. Note how my opening is to the side of the center seam. The preference is really yours, if you’re a beginner you might want to keep the opening centered over the center seam. I find I get a better result by offsetting the opening when I go to finish the seam by hand.

Silk is kind of fiddly to work with, and after sewing, you may notice that there are some unwanted ripples and such. You can iron them out by passing the iron across the cravat in the narrow direction, not lengthwise. Ironing lengthwise tends to introduce even more wrinkling which are very difficult to remove.

Drafting a Cravat

Drafting a cravat is very easy and a great place to start if you’ve never drafted anything before. To begin, draw a horizontal line, 25″ in length, placing a mark at 0 and 25.

Make one more mark, 3″ from 0.

The exact length is up to you, I sometimes make them slightly longer, it depends on your neck size and how large of a bow you want, really. So feel free to experiment.

At point 3, draw a 2″ line centered on the base line, so 1″ above and below. This gives us the width of the bow, and again can be altered to preference.

At point 25, draw a 1″ line centered as well, 1/2″ above and below, giving us the center back. You could make this a little wider, say 1 1/4″, to make it easier to fit your point turning tool when turning the cravat right side out.

To draw the outline, draw a straight line from 1 to 2, curving into point 0. I do end up curving the transition between the two lines at point 2 to smooth things out. Repeat for the lower edge of the cravat as well.

Finally, add a 3/8″ seam allowance all the way around the cravat. I’ve found the silk tends to fray so I prefer the slightly wider seam allowance here, as it can always be trimmed down. I’ve also marked the grain line, identical to the original construction line.

Cut out your paper pattern along the seam allowance.